Published: 16:35 GMT Daylight Time - Tuesday 21 October 2014
Speak out for condemned Christian mother Aasia Bibi as she appeals to Supreme Court
Country/Region: Pakistan, South and East Asia
Lawyers for condemned Pakistani Christian Aasia Bibi say they are planning to take her case to the country’s Supreme Court after her appeal against the death sentence she was given for “blasphemy” was rejected.
|Aasia’s appeal against the death penalty was rejected on 16 October|
Aasia’s appeal was rejected, and the death sentence confirmed, by the Lahore High Court on Thursday (16 October). She has 30 days in which to file an appeal with the Supreme Court.
Aasia has spent four years languishing on death row, waiting for her appeal to be heard, since she was convicted in November 2010 of making derogatory remarks about Muhammad. The appeal hearing was postponed five times before it finally took place.
Christian lawyers present at the proceedings reported that the court appeared to be under pressure from a group of Islamic extremists who attended the hearing. A group of lawyers were also present from an Islamic organisation whose members have been known to pressurise courts during blasphemy trials and argue that those accused of blasphemy should be denied a fair trial.
Add your voice to ours on Aasia’s behalf
Barnabas Aid is calling on supporters to write to their elected representatives on Aasia’s behalf as part of our Save Aasia Bibi: Don’t let her die campaign. Please consider adding your voices to ours in calling for the Pakistani authorities to overturn this draconian penalty meted out to an innocent woman.
Aasia, a Christian mother and farm worker from Punjab, was falsely accused of blasphemy in 2009. The accusation apparently arose after a heated discussion with other women in her village who attacked her Christian beliefs.
During the appeal hearing, the defence once again questioned the quality of the evidence upon which Aasia was convicted, pointing out many contradictions in witness statements. Her lawyers argue that there must have been a grudge or jealousy against Aasia that prompted the accusation; Pakistan’s “blasphemy” laws are often misused to settle personal scores.
Militant Muslims have called loudly for the death penalty, which is the mandatory sentence in Pakistan for those convicted of insulting Muhammad, to be carried out in Aasia’s case. Some have threatened to kill her themselves; one Islamic leader has offered a financial reward to anyone who does so.
Our support is particularly crucial because highlighting the injustice suffered by Aasia can be very dangerous in Pakistan. Two prominent Pakistani politicians who spoke out in support of Aasia were murdered in 2011. Salman Taseer, Governor of Punjab, and Shahbaz Bhatti, the Pakistani Cabinet Minister responsible for the protection of minority rights in Pakistan, were both shot dead.